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on 25 August 2015
I am not sure that 'love it' is the correct term for such a heart wrenching recounting of a savage period of history - but it is the highest rating I can give. O'Callaghan's research tells the most unsavoury barbaric treatment of the Irish people by Cromwell and his troops - a treatment that was likewise experienced by the English and Scottish who failed to bend to his will. It is yet another example of man's inhumanity to man, of slaughter of slavery. Tragically, it is an inhumanity and cruelty still being experienced by many people in parts of the world today, because of their race, religion and powerlessness in the face of the might of intolerance. Why are we unable to learn from history and the atrocities of the past? Highly recommended read.
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on 6 May 2017
I came to this book as a by-product of researching family history and found a fascinating read of a period of Irish history that I knew nothing about. Nearly everyone knows of the dispersal of the Irish following the Famine of the 19th century but, this book covers an earlier dispersal of thousands of Irish as "white" slaves sent to the Caribbean and America in the 17th century. The book is well researched and supplies an extensive bibliography for anyone wishing to delve further into the subject. Sadly, Sean O'Callaghan died as the book was going to press in 2000. I would recommend
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on 12 October 2016
A good historical read.
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on 8 September 2017
book as described, no worries
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on 8 June 2017
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on 19 February 2015
My maternal grandfather's English Protestant ancestors were "planted" in Ulster in 1618 by the Crown and endowed with a good deal of Irish Catholic land. The next two generations fought as soldiers, the first to escape from the 1641 Catholic uprising, and for King Charles I against Parliament, the next for William of Orange against Charles' son James II. Subsequent generations became merchants, farmers and Anglican clerics. My Grandfather finally left Ireland in about 1892 never to return.
His Grandfather an Archdeacon in the Church of Ireland (Anglican) owned 700 acres of Irish land. Our Protestant span in Ireland was well over 250 years.
By intermarriage I am also descended from the Irish Catholics O' Dochertys of Inishowen, Shane O'Neill, the McLouglins of Dublin and "Old English" Catholic families such as "Strongbow" de Clare and his daughter Isobel, bride of Sir William the Marshal, and the Fitzgeralds of Kildare whose Catholic tenure in Ireland was hundreds of years or more.
In consequence I am very familiar with Irish history and stories of suffering and horror.
I have been very fortunate to spend most of the last 15 winters in Barbados and learned a lot about the origins of the inhabitants, both "White Bajans" and "Black Bajans". The old white population on the Island is one of the largest in the Caribbean and proud of their ancestry.
So reading this book was inevitable for me. Many of the original slaves on the Island were Irish, the wars and troubles that led to their transportation, the horrors of the passgage and of their subsequent slavery are well recounted by O' Callaghan. In general the colonists could not afford to maintain a white slave population more than double their own strength for reasons of security. Many other Irish were slaughtered, Cromwell being the worst culprit, or transported to fight in Protestant armies in Europe, not always beneficial to the Protestants.
Many English Protestant Royalists on the losing side were also transported, as well as many losing Scots.
I expected this to be a one-sided rant against English Protestant brutality, however O'Callaghan weighs the evidence impartially and reports Irish atrocities equally thoroughly, though he rightly questions the English exaggeration of the scale of Irish reprisals in the 1641 uprising.
The era described is one in which winners in civil wars could neither slaughter all the losers, nor accommodate them, so transportation seemed the only alternative solution. Barbados was one of the earliest English colonies outside the British Isles, and so preceded North America and Australia for this purpose.
Long sea passages and living and working in the tropics were very hazardous even for the masters in those days, so Black slavery came to take the place of white slavery in due course. Many white slaves were indentured for seven years after which they became free. Many of their owners did all they could to minimise the likelihood of this coming about.
This is a wonderful impartial and thoughtful book, well documented and referenced, a must-read for any one interested in Ireland, Barbados and the Stuart era. My one quibble is that the title should really include the word "attempted" or "intended". Quite clearly the ethnic cleansing was sub-total unlike that of the Medieval Cathars.
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on 3 June 2016
A fantastic insight into a part of my ancestors history that I really knew nothing about! Will have my Dad read it next...that should be interesting too. A sad part of history that should never have been repeated,but it has and still is
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on 27 March 2014
An interesting book with many side issue comments and stories in its content to make it all the more interesting. Written, very much for the benefit of the Irish, but uncovering much of the English Imperialist attitudes still previlent today.
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on 23 September 2001
To Hell or Barbados describes the fate of the thousands of Irish sold into slavery in the West Indies and Virginia after Cromwell's invasion in the Seventeenth Century.
As someone from an Irish background, I have to confess that, although I knew about the slave trade before, reading about the fate of my own countrymen and women gave the subject a new immediacy for me.
The book illustrates the links between Cromwell's policies in England, the invasion of Ireland and the 'Western design' in the Carribean. Irish rebels and English dissidents were sold into slavery along with millions of Africans.
It conveys a strong impression of an era whose legacy is still with us today. That is partly down to the power of O'Callaghan's description of the colonial West Indies. It is a vivid, not to say lurid account, of a society of exploitation and cruel debauchery maintained by systematic violence.
This is a powerful book, well worth reading for anyone interested in West Indian, American, Irish or English history
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on 24 February 2003
In an era when "ethnic cleansing" has become a sad cliche, the historical enmity between English and Irish occasioned not only Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, in which he satirically suggested eating Irish newborn, but also a wholesale forced emigration of "redundant" Irish men and boys to the sugar plantations of Barbados, where their treatment and living conditions were often barbaric. The author vividly and unforgettably resurrects a shameful chapter of British history that many have sought to suppress. This work should be required reading for any committed student of religious and ethnic strife.
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